Better Work Jordan annual report shows challenges, progress in garment sector

21 Mar 2024

52nd meeting of Project Advisory Committee examines findings of 2024 annual report

AMMAN, Jordan21 March 2024— Better Work Jordan’s (BWJ) annual report highlights persistent shortcomings in complying with national laws and international labour standards in the country’s garment industry. The sector still faces challenges, particularly in occupational safety and health (OSH) practices, the report noted.

Better Work Jordan partners with 91 garment factories and five non-garment factories. The report includes data from compliance visits to 86 factories, advisory sessions, and surveys with workers, supervisors, and managers. While the report notes progress in OSH management and services in 2023, it also identifies areas requiring further improvements, including mental health provision, accommodation for workers and food quality.

The report documents progress made in the garment sector, including a decrease in non-compliance relating to child labour and forced labour. Compliance with regulations against pregnancy testing for migrant workers also increased significantly, with only a 4 per cent non-compliance rate, compared with 55 per cent three years earlier.

However, 16 per cent of factories continue to fall short of meeting the employment quota for individuals with disabilities. Persistent concerns about sexual harassment and verbal abuse in the workplace were also noted. In addition, the report highlights non-compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), including adhering to maximum daily overtime hours, the provision of institutional nurseries for children, and mental health training initiatives.

The report, which was discussed during Better Work Jordan’s 52nd Project Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting on March 4th, notes a 5 per cent decrease in the garment sector’s workforce in Jordan, now totalling 74,000 workers, predominantly migrants (76 per cent), with women accounting for 74 per cent.

The meeting was presided over by the Ministry of Labour (MoL) and attended by representatives of the Jordan Garments, Accessories, and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGATE), the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries (JTGCU), the Jordan Chamber of Industry (JCI), and the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Amman.

Najah Abu Tafesh, head of the MoL Occupational Safety and Health Directorate, highlighted the introduction of OSH regulations in 2023 and the MoL’s efforts to increase awareness in the industry of the new requirements.

The PAC also discussed the suspension of operations at the Aseel factory in October 2023 because of financial difficulties, which led to delayed salary payments and strikes by workers.

Haitham Al Najdawi, head of the MoL Inspection Directorate, outlined the steps taken by the ministry to resolve the issue of the factory’s financial obligations to other government bodies. Sanal Kumar, Vice Chairperson of JGATE and CEO of a leading garment factory, emphasized the need for early intervention when factories face similar challenges. He also recommended that relevant stakeholders meet to discuss new approaches.

Participants at the meeting agreed to set up a technical committee to monitor and address these issues. The committee will include representatives from JGATE, JCI, JTGCU, and the MoL, collaborating with buyers and relevant embassies, as well as other entities, including the SSC, the Ministry of Interior (MoI), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with advisory support from Better Work Jordan.

Better Work Jordan also presented the findings of a case study based on a garment factory seeking to recruit and retrain middle-level managers, and the achievement and challenges related to the programme’s Mental Health Project, which aims to improve the wellbeing and mental health of workers in the sector.

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